Horse on the hills of JagodinaAnd as the dusty sunlight dripped though the trees, I climbed and stretched my way past the benches and fixed seating of the park. A park laid out for formal fun and limited joy. And there at my pathways edge, where the mist danced and the sun gleamed straight into my eye I stopped. Seeing the route ahead streaming with golden sun, but seeing nothing, such was its strength I paused. But resolution set, I pushed on past the facade and into the midden.

 

And as I hauled myself up to the top of the hill, the sun and I rose together, me walking blindly, it trying to stop me seeing the way that lay ahead. To my left and right small holdings of dogs, chickens and a horse next to tumble down shed and lean to. Houses of snug single rooms passed from father to son. As these passed by me, the sun blanched continued to try and burn the leaves with its morning rays. The rising sun unflinching but unfailing in its minds purpose repeated every day within the cold limitations of the season.

The wet web of the frantic spiders, drying fast as the morn focussed and splashed across the lands where once Constantine had played. And that heavy clod wet earth, turned by hand and horse, sunken deep into the ground waiting for the seeds of next seasons crop. But memory of that past does not feed these folk and here in the farmstead and holdings the families create their own now and future.

So as I stumbled back down into the valley you can feel your calves pull up in contrary motion of the downhill walk. Your body at the opposite angle to the comfort and excitement of the new climb up. And as the crows caw their morning chime another path, unseen on arrival opens up tempting and fresh - unpicked. The mystery of the unknown path is too strong to be denied and drags you aside from the homeward route. It's only as you stride that you see such formulations of nature clutched to the bosom of the hedge and trees - rounded and sharp, new old, fresh and rotting.

I approach what deceives as the top of the hills, and the consistent putter of a roaring engine looms behind - a beast - a vast climbing tractor I assume. But it is not, this spider small red car crawling slowly up one man crouching behind the wheel - the interruption of the cars engine loud immediate total and all. But as it passes - spluttering to the top - I pause and glance and I realise that the noise and its storm is gone in a sun golden rays moment.

Pausing at the top of the hill I have surmounted, I look around, forward and back and breathe in the fresh of the newly conquered scene. I will never breathe it again. As the mist off hills begins to clear and the sprawl of housing starts to appear - I throw my imagination back onto my own hopes and imagine the house mounted Constantine pausing here too before he turns back to home and I back to mine. we are centuries apart and the link is unreal - but I hope and yearn that I have glimpsed something of the fresh simplicity of morning Balkan nature that he breathed in back even then.

For here, Jagodina, where farmers and their folk have lived and survived, is but a horse ride from Nis, home of that pagan rejector, land of pride and cross laden hope. Here where religious creed has been used to liberate, pressure, laden and even persecute - perhaps the cool sunlit simplicity if the morning reveals that nature doesn't have a view on who or what you do. And over the years and the centuries the opinions and the intrusions are forced by man, by their gods and gods. And yet the irony of the rejection of Sol, Rome's adopted sun god, as he lands on my shoulders and I turn for home, I capture the beam of that sun, refracting through my lense.